Toyota will make more engines at its plant in Georgetown the auto maker revealed Tuesday.
The auto giant says it’s a signal that it is recovering nicely from a bruising public relations hit over recalls in recent years.
Toyota will spend $32 million to make an additional 100,000 four cylinder engines. “It’s a different type of engine than we’ve been building in the past,” said Will James, president of Toyota’s factory in Georgetown.
The expansion will push the plant’s engine building capacity to 700,000 when the addition goes on line in August 2013. The plant currently makes V-4 and V-6 engines. The new V-4 engines will be either hybrid or gas powered.
"All of the equipment involved in the infrastructure for building these engines has to be designed, has to be built, has to be installed, checked out,” James said of why the expansion won’t be finished for more than a year.
The new engines will be used in the RAV4, Camry and Camry Hybrid. The Camry and hybrid are made in Georgetown. "It makes sense to build the engines right across the street from where you're going to be building the cars,” James noted.
The state is giving Toyota $6.5 million in performance based tax breaks for the expansion which will create 86 new jobs, pushing overall employment at the factory to around 6,700.
Toyota big wigs admit things have been tough the last few years as the economy slid and recalls caused the company to take a major p-r hit. Sales plummeted.
“It just seemed like Toyota got singled out there,” Beshear told ABC 36 News.
He said Toyota “handled it well” by stepping up, admitting some mistakes and making some changes.
"Toyota is such a strong company that I always felt that it would eventually be okay, you know I think some other companies maybe that were teetering even more than Toyota could have been put under by that kind of publicity,” Beshear said.
The head of the Georgetown plan said Toyota never waved on the integrity of its cars. "There was never a question of survival,” James said.
Now, Toyota leaders see the engine expansion project as the latest example that the auto maker is moving forward again.